English 88

MOO-based pedagogical idealism circa 1995

Click 'here' and be a poet

Don’t you love the look of web pages circa 1995? I made this page, as I made all my thousands of pages from the moment Mosaic showed me the possibilities of the graphical web browser; before that, I was much enamored of the Gopher, and built an elaborate Gopher for my poetry course (English 88) and for Penn's English department, where I happened to be in the middle of a long stint as undergraduate chairperson.

Once graphical interfaces with the world wide web were semi-stable, I moved English 88 into html files (coding them myself, of course). Next year, English 88 on the web will be 20 years old but I'll feel 10 years younger than I felt just before I first realized I could share this course with anyone, anywhere, without charge.

By 1995, thanks to the late Jack Abercrombie and Susan Garfinkel, students in English 88 (virtual members and of course students enrolled in the class at Penn) could meet in PennMOO, a non-graphical/text-only synchronous chat space where, with a little training, people would “do” things, “build” things, and make projects happen. I saw a natural opportunity here for a virtual poetry slam. We built a skating rink, and almost always did a few rounds of skating before groups of us entered various chat spaces to have separate conversations about the various poems we were studying. I built an office next to the skating rink for myself, and held virtual office hours — for anyone in the world — from 11 PM until midnight on Sunday nights each week.

Two very different Cageans

Jena Osman and Kenneth Goldsmith in conversation

Jena Osman, John Cage, and Kenneth Goldsmith

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

On December 9, 2004, Al Filreis brought together two very different Cageans — Jena Osman and Kenneth Goldsmith — for a conversation with the students of his Modern and Contemporary American Poetry course. This was the first time that Osman and Goldsmith were recorded together, for beyond their shared interests in John Cage’s aesthetic and documentary poetics, they are very different poets. Osman is known for her disruptive, experimental poetics — collaging and intervening in existing texts — while Goldsmith’s works are defined by their uncreativity, where the texts are presented whole.

A note on teaching Stein: How four can be a pair

Gertrude Stein, "Readings" (1921)

Kisses can kiss us
A duck a hen and fishes, followed by wishes.
Happy little pair.

- - -

I adore this little poem. It's got a lot of Stein in it  — and by that I suppose I mean that it's teachable in an introduction to Stein overall. Back in 1999  I recorded a short improvised reading of the poem with Shawn Walker and have now converted it to mp3 and added it to the English 88 intro to modernism pages.

Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven

Listen to a Biography of the Baroness

The Baroness.

Here is an audio version of the biographical profile of the Baroness that was published in the sixth issue of Sulphur (1983), read by Shawn Walker: MP3.

an assemblage of paradoxes in one body

Listen to a brief audio biography of the Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven.

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